Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Sony Digital Cameras > Sony MVC-CD500

Sony MVC-CD500

Sony further expands its CD-equipped camera line, adding a five megapixel CCD and a host of other features to last year's top-of-the-line CD Mavica model.

<<Reference: Datasheet :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

CD-500 Sample Images

Review First Posted: 06/09/2003

Digital Cameras - Sony Mavica MVC-CD500 Test Images

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

Outdoor Portrait:

A nice job with great resolution, detail, and color, but very high contrast.

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the CD500 did a pretty good job, but produced a very contrasty image, with dark shadows and lost detail in the highlights.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which still resulted in slightly dark midtones, even though the highlights were pretty blown out. Boosting the exposure compensation to +0.7 EV brightened the midtones, but it also decreased detail in the highlights even further and produced an image that was too bright overall. I chose the Auto white balance as the most accurate overall, though the Daylight setting produced similar results. The Manual setting resulted in a much warmer image.

Skin tones look good (though just slightly cool), as does overall color. However, the blue flowers in the bouquet are more violet in appearance than their actual color of light navy blue. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right.) The CD500 did a good job with the strong red flowers, which have only a few hot spots and good detail. Resolution is excellent, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, even in the shadows. Details are also sharp, and image noise the shadows is quite low (though noise appears slightly higher on Marti's face).

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +0.7 EV, see files CD50OUTAP0.HTM through CD50OUTAP2.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Closer Portrait:

Excellent resolution and detail, high default contrast.

Exposure and color in this shot are similar to the wider shot above, as the CD500 again has slight trouble with the harsh lighting and produces high contrast. The camera's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features from the closeup shot. Detail is outstanding, with sharp details in Marti's face and hair. The shot at right was taken at the default exposure setting, which produced strong highlights but slightly dark midtones. Just as in the wider shot above, increasing the exposure compensation brightened midtones, but the highlights became much too bright. Shadow detail is again strong, with only moderate noise.

To view the entire exposure series from -0.3 to +0.3 EV, see files CD50FACAM1.HTM through CD50FACAP1.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
High Intensity
Slow-Sync Flash
High Intensity

Slight underexposure at the default setting with the built-in flash, but good coverage with the high intensity setting.

The CD500's built-in flash is somewhat dim at the Normal intensity setting. Thus, I chose the High intensity shot for the main image. At the higher setting, the flash illuminated the subject fairly well, though with a slight blue cast on Marti's face and the white shirt. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, but color is still pretty good overall. I also shot with the camera's slow-sync flash setting (called "Twilight Portrait" on the CD500), again at the High intensity setting. Overall lighting is more even thanks to the longer exposure, and the blue cast from the flash is also reduced somewhat. The yellow cast from the incandescent lighting is still present though, giving the image a warm cast.

The shots below show the results of the three different flash intensity settings with each of the flash options I tried (normal and twilight modes):

Normal Flash Mode
Low Normal High

Twilight Portrait Mode
Low Normal High




 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance

Most accurate color with the Auto white balance option, though nearly accurate results with Manual. Good exposure as well.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The CD500's Auto white balance produced the best overall color, despite a slight warm cast (which I felt actually captured the mood of the original lighting quite well). The Incandescent setting resulted in an even warmer image. The Manual setting produced a nearly accurate shot, but with a slightly greenish cast. Marti's skin tone looked the most natural with the Auto setting, although the blue flowers came out quite dark and purplish. (Probably to be expected, considering the light source.) The main shot has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which is about average for this shot, among cameras I test.

ISO Series:
Noise is generally pretty low on the CD500, and even at ISO 400, it's only what I would call moderately high. Oddly though, exposure increases with increasing ISO (although the same EV adjustment was used for all three images), as does the warm cast.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400



 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Great color, with very good resolution and detail.

The CD500's Manual white balance setting actually produced the best results here, with the most accurate white value on the house trim. The Auto setting was nearly accurate, though slightly warm, as was the Daylight setting. Resolution is very high, as the tree limbs and shrubbery show a lot of fine detail. (The CD500 actually begins to stretch the limits of this poster as a test target. Although the poster was made from a 500MB scan of a 4x5 negative shot with a tack-sharp lens, the CD500 is pretty close to extracting all the detail that's to be found here.) Details are also sharp throughout the frame, though the finest foliage details appear to be coarsened somewhat by the CD500's in-camera sharpening. The images here are also equally sharp overall, with only the slightest softening in the corners.



 

Far-Field Test

Excellent resolution and detail, though some loss of highlight detail due to a slight overexposure.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.

This is my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the CD500 did very well with it. The tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house show outstanding detail, with great definition even in the leaf patterns and tree trunk details. Details are nice and crisp, with just a hint of softness in the lower left corner of the frame. (There is some coma and chromatic aberration visible in the upper corners of the image though, where the sky peeks through the foliage.) The CD500 slightly overexposed this shot, lowing detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Alternatively, detail is quite good in the shadow area above the front door, in this case helped by the overexposure. Color balance is just slightly cool, but still good overall. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast, and Effects series.

Resolution Series:
(In keeping with my attempts to slightly conserve disk space, I've only shown a "normal" quality file for the largest image size here.)

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
CD50FARLF
CD50FARLN
2,048 x 1,536
CD50FARMF
-
1,280 x 960
CD50FARSF
-
640 x 480
CD50FARTF
-

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
Soft
Normal
Sharp

Saturation Series:

Saturation Series

Low


Normal


High

Contrast Series:

Contrast Series

Low


Normal


High

Effects Series:

Function Series


Normal

Negative

Solarize

Sepia



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The CD500's lens is equivalent to a 34-102mm zoom on a 35mm camera. That corresponds to an average wide-angle to a moderate telephoto. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slight color casts with each white balance setting, but good color overall and great resolution.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. I chose the Daylight white balance setting as the most accurate overall, despite a very slight reddish cast. The Auto and Manual settings weren't too far off the mark either, although the Auto setting had a stronger warm cast and the Manual setting was cooler. The slight reddish cast from the Daylight setting creates purplish tints in the blue background that aren't in the original image. Likewise, the shadow areas of the blue robe are a bit purplish, but the highlight areas are nearly accurate. Resolution is very high, with great detail in the embroidery of the blue robe. (The original data file for this poster was only 20MB, so the CD500 is quite capable of showing more detail than the poster has in it.)



 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Excellent macro performance, with great detail.

The CD500 performed well in the macro category, capturing a tiny minimum area of only 1.6 x 1.2 inches (41 x 31 millimeters). Resolution is very high, with strong detail in the dollar bill. The coins and brooch are soft due to the very short shooting distance. There's a lot more softness in the corners of this shot, extending down the entire left side of the frame. This is a very common failing of digicam lenses in ultra-macro shots, most likely caused by the optical phenomena called "curvature of field." The CD500's flash almost throttles down for the macro area, but at this close shooting range, creates a shadow from the lens.



 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

An excellent performance: Good color with the Manual white balance setting, with accurate saturation and exposure as well.

The Manual white balance produced the best color here, with the most accurate white value in the mini-resolution target and large, white color block. Auto and Daylight both produced slightly yellow images. Exposure is about right, and the CD500 distinguishes the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target nicely. Colors are bright and vibrant in the large color blocks, with good saturation. Detail is good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with low noise.




 

Low-Light Tests

Really excellent low-light shooting capabilities, thanks to long maximum shutter times, good noise reduction, and a superb AF-assist illuminator.

The CD500 has a maximum shutter speed of eight seconds, which is ample for most low-light shooting situations, including normal city street lighting at night. A long maximum exposure time isn't enough for topnotch low-light performance though, as noise and focusing are also issues that must be addressed. The CD500 is strong on both counts though, with an excellent noise-reduction system and a really fantastic autofocus-assist illuminator, in the form of Sony's "Hologram Autofocus." The net result is a superb low-light performance on all fronts. The shots below show the results at ISO settings from 100 to 400, as well as using the camera's "Twilight" scene mode.

The table below shows the best exposure I was able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.

 

  1fc
11lux
1/2fc
5.5lux
1/4fc
2.7lux
1/8fc
1.3lux
1/16fc
0.67lx
ISO
100
Click to see CD50LL1003.JPG

1.3 secs
F2.2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LL1004.JPG

4 secs
F2.2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LL1005.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LL1006.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LL1007.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 100

ISO
200
Click to see CD50LL2003.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2.2
ISO: 200

Click to see CD50LL2004.JPG

2 secs
F2.2
ISO: 200

Click to see CD50LL2005.JPG

4 secs
F2.2
ISO: 200

Click to see CD50LL2006.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 200

Click to see CD50LL2007.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 200

ISO
400
Click to see CD50LL4003.JPG

1/ 3 secs
F2.2
ISO: 400

Click to see CD50LL4004.JPG

1 secs
F2.2
ISO: 400

Click to see CD50LL4005.JPG

2 secs
F2.2
ISO: 400

Click to see CD50LL4006.JPG

4 secs
F2.2
ISO: 400

Click to see CD50LL4007.JPG

8 secs
F2.2
ISO: 400

"Twilight
Mode"

(ISO 100)

Click to see CD50LLSC03.JPG

1/ 2 secs
F2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LLSC04.JPG

1.6 secs
F2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LLSC05.JPG

2 secs
F2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LLSC06.JPG

2 secs
F2
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50LLSC07.JPG

2 secs
F2
ISO: 100




 

Flash Range Test

A powerful flash, consistent intensity all the way to 14 feet from the test target.

In my testing, the CD500's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, without any significant decrease in intensity. The exposure level is a little low on all the samples, but the flash level remains about the same throughout the series. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see CD50FL08.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL09.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL10.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL11.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL12.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL13.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100

Click to see CD50FL14.JPG

1/ 50 secs
F2.5
ISO: 100




 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Very high resolution, 1,300 lines of "strong detail." Very low barrel and pincushion distortion.

The CD500 performed very well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions (though you might argue for 800 or 900 lines in the horizontal direction). I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,300 lines, although you could argue for slightly more in the horizontal direction. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,700 lines.

Optical distortion on the CD500 is very low at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.2 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end also fared well, as I measured only a 0.1 percent pincushion distortion. These figures are much lower than average among digicams I've tested, particularly the figure for barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is very low here as well, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) - I did observe more chromatic aberration in the Far Field test above though.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
(Again, note that the "normal" quality setting is omitted for all but the largest image size, for the sake of conserving space on our server.)

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,592 x 1,944
CD50RESWLF
CD50RESWLN
2,048 x 1,536
CD50RESWMF
-
1,280 x 960
CD50RESWSF
-
640 x 480
CD50RESWTF
-

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,592 x 1,944
(Fine, Tele)
CD50RESTLF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

Excellent accuracy from the LCD monitor.

The CD500's LCD monitor is very accurate, showing almost exactly 100 percent of the final frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the CD500's LCD monitor is essentially perfect in that regard. Flash distribution is a little uneven at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is more uniform.


Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Sony MVC-CD500!



<<Reference: Datasheet | Print-Friendly Review Version>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Purchase memory card for Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS3 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate